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Council Candidates and Gender: What Have We Learned?

Deryn’s dashboard presents the information we have collected about candidates across Wales for this year’s local elections. One area we have concentrated on is the gender breakdown. You can find graphics here showing the female to male breakdown by party across Wales, local authority area by party and the total percentage for each local authority area. Additionally, we can see the incumbent councillor gender breakdown by party and council. Let’s have a look at the overall picture.

If we look at current councillors, we see a male-dominated picture. The Liberal Democrats and Labour lead the way on proportion of elected female councillors with around a third each. Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives both have under 30% and independent councillors are the least likely to be women with just over 20%. This is reflected in the council areas with those councils with the lowest proportion of women being more dominated by independents.

On the surface this year’s candidate roster might seem a little better, if still very male dominated. Labour leads the way for the major parties with 41% of their candidates being women. The Conservatives have a higher number of female candidates than Plaid Cymru but a lower proportion of their overall candidates. Again, independents perform poorly. The Greens also perform well, although their 47% female candidates is brought down slightly by the candidates they are standing jointly with Plaid Cymru, 37% of whom are women.

Looking at council areas we can see that rural mid and west Wales do the worst with Torfaen and Wrexham notably also having a low proportion of female candidates. Monmouthshire stands out with 45% of its candidates being women. This is due to Labour, the Conservatives and Greens all achieving above gender parity.

The crucial element for whether the representation of women on Wales’ councils will improve will be what proportion of female candidates are standing in winnable seats. Past results tell us that unfortunately the proportion of elected councillors who are women is likely to be lower than the proportion of candidates across the board and for each party and council. Either way, we can be sure that Welsh councils are likely to remain male dominated.

Monmouthshire does show us though that parties can find a way toward greater gender parity if they are truly committed to that goal. It will be interesting to see the effect this has on the council’s gender breakdown after the election. We can already see the positive impact parties can have by comparing them to the even more male-skewed independents. To truly produce a sea change though, it’s vital that parties not only focus on their total proportion of female candidates but also nominating women for winnable seats.

For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.

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